Trading Standards operate locally and are linked to regional local authorities such as councils. You can find your local Trading Standards Office (TSO) using this search tool: https://www.tradingstandards.uk/consumer-help/#LocalTS
Anyone can report businesses to Trading Standards if they suspect that unfair trader or illegal business activity is taking place. Trading standards regulations cover a range of subject areas including:
- Fair trading and pricing
- Product safety
- Age-restricted products
- Counterfeit goods and intellectual property
- Food standards and safety
TSOs have powers under Schedule 5 to the Consumer Rights Act 2015 and are authorised to visit business premises to check and ensure that businesses are complying with the law. Trading standards services will also address or investigate any complaints and non-compliance.
Whilst TSOs cannot stop a business trading, they can apply to the Courts for orders to restrict a business’ activities. Further breaches may lead to formal enforcement action, which must be carried out in accordance with the trading standards services’ enforcement policy.
Local authorities have a statutory duty to promote economic growth in the area and positive engagement with businesses to ensure compliance with trading standards is naturally the first step before initiating any formal enforcement proceedings. At this stage, a business may wish to seek legal representation to engage with the local authority on its behalf before a TSO resorts to further legal action.
Many breaches of trading standards law are criminal offences and can be prosecuted in the Magistrates’ Court or Crown Court. Trading standards offences are most often punished by way of an unlimited fine. The Court will take into account the severity of the breach, whether compensation should be granted and prosecuting and investigating costs. Furthermore, company directors may risk disqualification.
Nicholls & Nicholls offer training on business trading standards and can advise on how to implement best practice processes and procedures in order to ensure compliance with the law. Please see our Training Page for more information.
We are also best placed to advise on a range of trading standards breaches, provide advice and representation at initial investigation interviews, hearings, and engagement with prosecuting authorities, to secure the best outcome for you and your business.
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